The Anaheim Ducks have won back-to-back contests for the first time this season and are slowly getting a little healthier as they continue a four-game road trip against the struggling Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Captain Ryan Getzlaf (two points) and top-pair defenseman Hampus Lindholm (one assist) returned from injuries to contribute on the scoresheet as the Ducks knocked off Philadelphia 6-2 on Tuesday.
“We’ve been banged down and beaten up here pretty good with injuries,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle told reporters. “Anytime you can welcome veterans back and they come in, it does energize your group and it gives your group more confidence.” The Ducks have been without center Ryan Kesler (hip, out until at least December) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (shoulder, close to a return) all season, and recently lost blueliner Cam Fowler (knee, indefinite), but have fought their way over .500 and face a Florida team that has dropped four of five. The Panthers are near the bottom of the league in goals against per game (3.75) and were pounded 5-1 at Montreal on Tuesday after earning an inspiring victory at Washington in the previous contest. The biggest problem for Florida has been the penalty kill, which sits last in the league at 69.7 percent after allowing its ninth and 10 power-play goals of the season against the Canadiens.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, KCOP-13 (Anaheim), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE DUCKS (4-3-1): Getzlaf had a goal and an assist in his return while playing with Rickard Rakell (goal Tuesday) and Corey Perry (three assists, last two games) on the top line. “(Rakell is) a heck of a hockey player and the three of us worked well together in the past,” Getzlaf told reporters. “It’s a comfort level definitely when you get back out there and know where each other is going to be. Those guys do a good job of finding open spots for me.” Forward Ondrej Kase has two goals and an assist in the last two games after missing three with a head injury.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-5-0): Coach Bob Boughner blamed penalty trouble for turning the Montreal game around and Florida has allowed four power-play opportunities in each of the last four contests. Defenseman Keith Yandle scored his first goal of the campaign in Montreal and left wing Jonathan Huberdeau added an assist to take over the team lead with eight points. Antti Niemi was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh to back up James Reimer (2-3-0, .903 save percentage) with Roberto Luongo (hand) placed on injured reserve.
1. Florida F Colton Sceviour (upper-body) missed the Montreal game and is questionable for Thursday.
2. Anaheim G John Gibson has allowed two or fewer goals in his last six games after permitting seven combined in the first two this season.
3. The Panthers won both matchups last season, allowing the Ducks one goal in each encounter.
PREDICTION: Ducks 5, Panthers 3